37: Trespassers W – Koala and other metamorphoses

Verkrijgbaar als LP en CD in juli 2022 (available in July 2022)
Ovidius zou er trots op zijn. (Ovid would be proud.)

Trespassers W: Koala and other metamorphoses lp/cd (TW Records 2030, Somnimage, Red Wig 052), 2021

All vocal lines and lyrics except LP II-2 (Rudyard Kipling) and CD 12 (Syd Barrett) by Cor Gout.
Prod.: Lukas Simonis, L65 Studio, Rotterdam, 2021.
Musicians: Frans Friederich: electronics, trumpet, Cor Gout: voice, Lukas Simonis: guitar, electronics, background vocals, Henk Bakker: bass clarinet on LP II-8 and CD-8, Nina Hitz: cello on LP I-4 and CD-4

Trespassers W – Koala and other metamorphoses, LP and CD

Review by Robin James

Fresh avant garde jazz storytelling, almost operatic in scope, upsetting and volatile. Dark, tedious, romantic, recounting and mystical, with morbid motifs sometimes bringing the audience into direct contact with the dangers of life. A physical expression in space that finds beauty in things others consider dark, conspicuously dark, antiquated and eerie, mysterious, complex and exotic with seductive depictions of shadowy extravagance that again and again hurl the spectator into the center of the action. These compositions offer a closer look at socially alienated monsters, and some characters that are gradually going insane, but they are also stunningly attractive. Some stories here are autobiographical and brooding, some are children’s stories, one by Rudyard Kipling and one by Syd Barret.

Sometimes evoking Celtic mythology, Christian mythology, Egyptian mythology, and various traditions of Paganism, with the title Koala my first thought was “oh koala, how cute!” Now I realize that the storyteller vocalist Cor Gout only assumes his new friend is a koala, but it is clearly something else, and probably very dangerous, “Koala” (3:52). Who is going to tell him? There is a potent connection to Edgar Allen Poe, the voice of the madman late at night confessing his frights, that is where “Black Cat” (4:21) starts, somehow vaguely invoking Poe and then it goes into new horrors and spectrums of evil. Like Poe this is intended to be disturbing and emotional art. The rock dirge “Wild Boar” (3:10) combines romance and dark elements to produce mystery, suspense, terror, horror and the supernatural, a mesmerizing gothic-rock masterpiece. Just stay away from the wild animals that will come for you in the strangest places. 

“The Song of the Song Thrush” (4:17) is about the choir of nature, and how it looks from inside, birds are in the mix, within the horror din. In nature, the animals hunt and eat each other. This reaches into a point of view of the obscure, from a lush wilderness, speaking of sadness, nihilism, dark romanticism, tragedy, melancholy and morbidity, so elegant. The violin brings it home.

Just when track 5 seems like a stroll in the peaceful ambient wilderness, along comes the sledgehammer and the mood becomes dangerous in a new way, “Squirrel” (4:38) is an ode to the friendly frisky furry tree rabbits with big tails, which are actually toothy predators. Most of the track has an insistent beat with a message in poetic form, squirrels are there. Then a panther starts growling out there, is it getting closer? This song features the demise of the narrator again. “Panther” (4:44) is seductively starting over in the wilderness, so deep that the light fails, hiding ruinous castles, gloomy churchyards, claustrophobic monasteries, and lonely mountain roads. The story is possibly about mistaking ruthless authority for compassion. 

The Bandar Log are the Monkey People, this tune offers some well placed levity which is always appreciated, the location is over the top, the chance meeting of these various fellows leads to this frustrating adventure, “Road Song of the Bandar Log” (3:52) featuring words by Rudyard Kipling.

Next, we find a story of the pond, with ducks and an elf. The ugly duckling is transformed but who can claim credit, the old king or the elf? “King Frog” (4:51) keeps the strange sounds in a rhythmic framework and adds a dimension where nature itself lurks as a malign protagonist. Night could be when the amphibians feel most free. “Peacock’s Deceit” (3:30) is about active romance and the sound of a surreal world that focuses on uncovering its own splendor, a wandering collage trying to survive. “The Trail of the Hedgehog” (2:48) combines the broad sweep and the detail, imagine dark nature, dark man, dark thoughts, tragic and accomplished with new technologies and the oldest emotions. The trail of the hedgehog leads to the artist’s search for perfection. How can the wanderer resist the discovery of left-over jelly on the spoon? “Racoon” (3:48) has the beats, it has the awesome distorted guitars and whatnot (some fabulous whatnot by the way) all done in a strange slow dark way. 

Now for the finale, a Syd Barret song, “Birdie Hop” (3:16) which might be also about nature and survival, a brutal recital in the ethereal blues wave, killing on the hectochrome plane, and the flies that always persist in the end.

Koala’s assets are its liabilities, the experience is perfectly dark and painful, some of us like that. This is not an homage to Poe, it has a Poe fever dream horror quality, secrets are articulated, while space-jazz-funk is twittering and molting in the air. This is not a Goth revival, it is something very different, it is all dramatic and slow and with interesting instruments. I can’t stand it and I never want to hear it again but I probably will come to accept my personal enjoyment of this music because it constantly haunts my dreams now, and I mean that in a good way. You can have it both ways.

Here, the classical art traditions continue to shine, the oldest tragic theater craft is perfect in every way (gloomy and brooding), and perhaps the words themselves have special new possible meanings because of the pronunciation and intonation and context. The feeling is very compelling because it sounds familiar but in a new way, originating through the voice of someone from another land, from Holland.

For this album, Koala, TRESPASSERS W is a trio, two instrumentalists and a vocalist, Frans Friederich, Lukas Simons and Cor Gout. This is not for everybody, but it is a monumental work of fine art, and long live the strange emotional passions of Edgar Allen Poe! Poe worked mostly in text, today here and now we have our electronic phantom sounds as well as the old traditions of music and physical theater. It was once speculated that sometimes great art can leave you exhausted at the end because of the intense emotional workout. 

(From the press release:) After 2006, when The Noble Folly of rock’n’roll saw the light of day, we all thought that this cd, volume three of the series Sex and Drugs and Rock’n’roll, was Trespassers W’s swansong. Individual members choose their own path and singer Cor Gout intensified his career as a writer of poetry, short stories, essays and (in 2021) a novel. Being the musician that he is, he surrounded some of his books with music: Muziek in zwart wit (Music in black and white) illustrated the interviews with Dutch jazz-musicians from the thirties, forties and fifties with songs, performed by John and Annelies van Markwijk, Ab Bol, former Trespassers W-drummer Peter Bos and Cor Gout, that had made these old jazz-celebrities famous. (the story continues) Since 2006 Trespassers W metamorphosed several times, but in these recreations the band never disappeared. On the contrary, it changed back into the elusive band it always has been.

Limited Edition LP – 300 Copies worldwide, also available as a Digital Album

Trespassers W – Koala and other metamorphoses